The best European cities for celebrating LGBT Pride in 2018
While it’s Pride Month in America this June, many of the European gay pride festivals & parades take place later in the summer. From the big capital cities to small towns, there are over 100 different LGBT pride parades taking place across the continent. With live music, activism seminars, LGBT film festivals, and of course the ubiquitous pride parade, there’s something for everyone during the European pride season. Here’s my list of pride events around the continent this summer, taking place in some of the best gay cities in Europe.
Part of a week-long event focused on politics, Athens Pride culminates with a march and rally on June 9th. This public event has taken place since 2005 and 2018’s theme for the event is focused on femininity. Not just as a biological feature, but one that is experienced, learned, defined, projected and celebrated in society.
During Athens Pride, most things pick up in the late afternoon with local organizations and activist groups setting up stands promoting their diverse causes during a public street fair. There’s also a stage with live performers and speeches throughout the day and night.
June 9th, 2018
While you might expect Barcelona Pride to take place on the city’s beautiful beaches, the main event is a pride parade through the city that ends at Plaza España with a series of concerts by LGBTQ musicians and Eurovision favorites like Loreen and Conchita Wurst.
Other events during the festival include vermouth tastings and a street market in Barcelona’s gay neighborhood, Eixample (also called Gayxample). The event is largely inclusive of the vast LGBT+ spectrum and there are even family-focused events across the city such as a pride day at Tibidabo, Barcelona’s hilltop amusement park.
June 30th, 2018
London’s Pride Festival is a month-long affair with pop-up shops and LGBT+ events happening across the city, though it’s largely centered on the historic gay London neighborhood of Soho in the city’s centre. Their pride month ends with London’s pride parade through the city on July 7th.
Look out for the alternative events, such as the many theatre plays taking place (Grindr the Opera is getting extra attention this year).
July 7th, 2018
In Germany, the pride marches and festivals are called Christopher Street Day, in a nod to the Stonewall riots that launched the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Germany’s biggest CSD is in Berlin with nearly 500,000 participants each year. The pride festival starts the weekend before the CSD march with a street fair (featuring shopping and live music) in Schöneberg and then ends with a pride parade on July 28th.
The Berlin pride parade takes place throughout the city and ends in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, with live performances on a center stage and DJs blasting music from many of the floats that sit parked in the Tiergarten park. Late-night parties and techno is the norm during Berlin CSD.
July 28th, 2018
Scandinavia’s largest pride festival, Stockholm Pride, coincides with EuroPride 2018 (the annual pan-European LGBTI pride festival), so this is probably going to be one of gay Europe’s largest celebrations this summer. Stockholm Pride features a pride park with live music, vendors, and even a “kink learning center” for adults.
During the pride parade, the city is filled with rainbows and many businesses (including the city’s public buses and transportation) deck out in LGBTQ pride flags.
August 4th, 2018
Pride Amsterdam is one of Europe’s most unique pride parades—because it takes place on the city’s UNESCO World Heritage canals during a “Canal Parade”! Eighty boats move through the city in a parade where people line the canals, cheering on the boats as they drive by. Other highlights during Pride Amsterdam include Drag Olympics (the 14th annual) and a Pride Park in the city’s spacious Vondelpark.
Don’t miss the Milkshake Festival taking place in Amsterdam the weekend before the Pride (July 28th-29th). It’s a 2-day queer music and arts festival with mega-LGBTQ stars, artists, DJs and performers such as Amanda Lepore, Christeene, and Discodromo. It’s one of Europe’s best queer festivals!
August 4th, 2018
Brighton’s annual pride festival is the UK’s largest and features a parade (referred to as the “Carnival of Diversity”) as well as a mega-festival in Preston Park. This year’s headlining performer is none other than Britney Spears.
Over 300,000 people take part in the pride parade and festival with a diverse representation of the UK’s LGBT+ population. Already one of the UK’s most LGBT-friendly cities, Brighton comes alive with rainbows and color during the weeks surrounding Brighton Pride. Earlier in the summer, Brighton also hosts its own Trans Pride from July 20th-22nd. Now in its 6th year, this separate event celebrates gender diversity and highlights visibility and safety for the trans community.
August 4th, 2018
One of Europe’s newer LGBT pride festivals and parades, Prague Pride was founded in 2010 and has quickly grown into an important political and activist-oriented event. The LGBT parade takes place through the city and ends with a festival at the Pride Park, featuring Czech performers, pop stars and DJs playing until 10pm.
After-parties continue in Prague’s many lesbian and gay bars, and in the days leading up to the parade, a Pride Village opens on the riverside, with community organizations, political discussions, and seminars taking place.
August 11th, 2018
As a leader in Europe’s gay rights movement, Denmark’s capital pride celebration features several different events, including the pride parade through the city that ends in the Copenhagen City Hall Square. While the march is relatively small (only lasting a few hours), the parties go all night and the pride festival at the city hall square features live music and drag acts.
August 18th, 2018
One of my personal favorite pride festivals, Manchester Pride includes a pride parade through the city and a total transformation of the UK’s most famous “gayborhood” on and around Canal Street. The pride parade, free and open to the public, moves through the city and includes a live stream from Gaydio (also based in Manchester).
The main attraction during Manchester Pride, though, is The Big Weekend festival with performances by Rita Ora, Jake Shears, and queer London nightclub, Sink the Pink. Manchester also hosts the world’s largest trans celebration, The Sparkle Weekend, which this year takes place on July 7th-8th.
August 25th, 2018
About the author
Adam Groffman is an award-winning travel writer, blogger and marketer based in New York City where he covers city trips around the world, expat life, LGBT travel, festivals, and nightlife. Find more LGBT travel tips on his popular gay travel blog, Travels of Adam. When he’s not out exploring the coolest bars and clubs, you’ll find him in an art gallery or museum—or most likely, on Twitter and Instagram.
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